Belfast Telegraph

Bright spell for Thomas Cook as wet weather boosts sales

By Jamie Grierson

British sunseekers looking to escape the miserable UK weather have lifted holiday bookings at beleaguered travel firm Thomas Cook.

The UK's second biggest travel company said its summer programme was now 88% sold after a weather-related boost in recent weeks following a subdued April and May.

But cumulative bookings in the UK were still down 1% on last year as at July 29, although this was unchanged from its last update in May, the firm said.

Thomas Cook were recently forced to turn to its banks in search of an additional £200m of loans, and reported an underlying operating loss of £26.5m in the three months to June 30.

This was in relation to tough trading conditions and the cost of acquisitions.

Thomas Cook said demand for its specialist and independent holidays remained strong but sales of its Olympic and Paralympic packages to corporate customers had been challenging.

The group was plunged into crisis in November after it turned to its lenders for help - sparking fears of a collapse - but it is now hopeful that it has a platform for recovery.

The group recently appointed Harriet Green, the boss of electrocomponents distributor Premier Farnell, to lead its turnaround as its chief executive.

Thomas Cook has so far sold part of its aircraft fleet and five Spanish hotels and has also agreed the sale of its Indian arm as part of the strategy.

The tour operator has removed 500 underperforming mainstream hotels - around 22% of its properties - from its summer programme.

Ms Green said she hoped to unveil her vision for the business next spring.

She said: "The group has been through a difficult period, but much has been achieved which has strengthened the balance sheet and improved liquidity."500

The number of hotels that it has removed from its programme

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